AYYAPPAN know as AYYAN who belonged to the Vellalar Kulam, was the army chief of the Pandalam royal family. He lived with his uncle Perisseri Pillai of Erumeli, Kottayam dist, Kerala. This was about ten generations ago.
Ayyan was instrumental in the defeat of Udayanan, who attacked Sabarimala and tried to demolish the ancient Sastha temple in the thick forest of present Pathanamthitta district.
Meanwhile the Royal family of King Pandya had migrated from Tamilnadu about 800 years back. The King reconstructed the destroyed Sastha temple at Sabarimala with the help of Ayyan, Vavar, a Muslim youth from Kanjirappally, Kadutha, a Nair youth from Muzhukeer, Chenganoor, Alapuzha dist.
During a clash, Ayyappan got killed. His uncle,Perissery Pillai, constructed the KOCHAMPALAM – an old small Sastha temple – at Erumeli, opposite the VAVAR PALLY (MOSQUE), constructed by Muslims in memory of Vavar swamy.
After the demise of Ayyappan people thought that he was the avathar of Lord Sasthaand began to worship him. Later Ayyappan and Sastha became synonymous.
Some say that Ayyappan was the son of a Brahmin but Nalankal Krishna Pillai in his book “Mahashekthrangalkkumunpil” states that Brahmins never had the name AYYAPPAN or AYYAN.
In the age old “Elavarsevampattu” it was clearly mentioned that Ayyan belonged to “Vellalar kulam, Near Erumeli, Kottayam, Kerala.There still exists a vellala house called Puthenveedu in Erumely. In the same compound there is a 300 year old, thatched, depleted, mud house, the house of Perissery Pillai, Ayyappan’s uncle and the Vellal Chieftain of Erumeli. There even today one can see the ancient sword used by Ayyappan to kill the monstrous ERUMA- mahisham. The place where the “eruma” was killed became Erumakolly and later Erumeli.
Sabarimala pilgrimers ,Ayyappans, conduct the Erumeli PETTAITHULLAL (Pettatullal is painting the face with colours and dancing with wooden weapons to make one look odd. The essence of this practice is to give up ones ego and surrender to Lord Ayyappa. )This is to commemmorate the killing of mahisham by Ayyan and is celelebrated during the month of December-January every year. “Ayyan / Ayyappan” Pillai is very common name among vellalas of Kottayam, Alapuzha, Pathanamthitta, Idukki and Ernakulam districts of Kerala. A number of Ayyappan kovils were constructed by Vellalas who migrated from Tamilnadu to Kerala e.g. Erumeli, Kanam etc.
Lakhs and lakhs of Tamilian Ayyappan devotees called the “Ayyappans” – come to Sabarimala every year to worship Tamil origin “VELLALAR KULA JHATHAN AYYAN AYYAPPAN”.